Diabetes has become the leading cause of mortality in the US along with heart attacks and stroke. It is a very complicated condition that can affect numerous parts of the body – starting from the eyes to the toes. People can get diabetes through a combination of genetic inheritance or lifestyle behaviors. If you have diabetes, being wary of ways to control your glucose levels and care for the rest of your body is key to fighting off its negative effects. In fact, diabetes is the cause for complications such as heart disease, stroke, and foot amputations. Therefore, it is very important to educate oneself about how to properly care for your body, beginning from your personal diet.
What is the best way to deal with diabetes?
There are three main things to take care of if you have been diagnosed with diabetes:
1. Proper food planning. Speak to a dietitian to plan out a balanced diet.
2. Regular exercise and losing weight. Maintain at least 3 hours of active exercise per week; avoid rigorous activities that might damage your feet. Try less-rigorous exercises like yoga, aerobics, or swimming.
3. Routine doctor visits and and reporting of conditions such as recurrent infections, blurry vision etc.
What is the diabetic plate?
The diabetic plate is a simple and effective way to manage your diabetes through diet. There is no special tool needed, and no calories to count! If you envision your dinner plate, make sure that at least half of it is made of non-starchy foods; the rest can be starchy foods and proteins. This simple method lets you choose the foods you like, and when you are ready, you can also try new foods from the same categories.
What can I eat if I have diabetes?
It is important to remember to have three meals a day, and not snack in between meals, as this can make blood-sugar levels go awry. The following is a list of foods that all diabetic patients should prescribe to their daily diets:
- Green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale. The more of these on your plate, the better!
- Fruits enriched with Vitamin C (oranges)
- Sweet potatoes instead of regular mashed potatoes
- Beans – kidney beans, black beans, etc. are full of proteins. (Be careful to drain off the liquid while having canned beans.)
- Berries – blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, etc.
- Fish – Fresh fish like salmon is best for you. Stay away from deep-fried fish!
- Fat-free yogurt or milk
- Whole grains – stay away from processed foodstuffs! Try a daily bowl of fiber-rich oatmeal.
- Tofu – it is a great healthy source of protein.
While you may enjoy using certain types of flavoring like MSG or salt, it is important to understand that these can cause side effects such as blindness, headaches, and heart problems. Keeping a sodium-free diet and using flavoring substitutes like ginger, garlic, and onions is recommended.
Diabetic patients are also advised from drinking too much alcohol. Men should not have more than 2 drinks per day and women should not have more than 1 drink per day (equivalent to 12 ounces of beer or 5 ounces of wine or 1 ounce of vodka).
REMEMBER, diabetes requires continuous care and maintenance; it does not only involve glucose control, but also many other lifestyle factors. Start from looking at your diet today and speaking with your doctor and dietitian to see understand the best options for you.